* Net profit at 23.27 bln rupees vs 23.91 bln rupees
* Net interest income rise 15 pct
* Banks profitability seen under pressure due to weaker
(Adds context, details from financial statement, share
NEW DELHI, April 22 HDFC Bank Ltd,
India's third-biggest lender by assets, said its quarterly net
profit rose 23 percent, the slowest growth in a more than a
decade and slightly lower than estimates, as a weaker economy
put the brakes on lending.
The Mumbai-based bank said net profit rose to 23.27 billion
rupees ($384.79 million) for the fiscal fourth quarter ending
March from 18.9 billion rupees in the same year-ago period.
Analysts had on average forecast a net profit of 23.91 billion
rupees, according to Thomson Reuters data.
India's economic growth has almost halved to below 5 percent
in the past two years on weak investments and consumer demand,
the worst slowdown for the south Asian nation since the 1980s.
This has led to a decline in credit and a rise in bad debts,
factors which analysts expect will weigh on the profitability of
the banking sector this fiscal year.
HDFC, which has outperformed rivals with consistently high
profit growth of about 30 percent and stable asset quality, has
seen profit growth weaken in the past three quarters as loans
and fee incomes grew at a slower pace.
Net interest income, the difference between interest earned
and paid out, rose 15.3 percent to 49.53 billion rupees in the
three months to March, the bank said on Tuesday.
Asset quality remained stable with non-performing loans as a
percentage of total assets at 0.3 percent. Net interest margin
for the quarter was at 4.4 percent.
Shares in HDFC Bank, valued at more than $28 billion, were
up 1.7 percent by 0907 GMT. The stock is 9.3 percent higher so
far this year, underperforming a 14 percent rise in the sector
index, but outperforming the 8 percent rise in the
main market index.
HDFC Bank's 12-month forward price-to-book ratio is
estimated to be the highest among 166 large and mid cap banks in
Asia Pacific, according to StarMine SmartEstimates, which
emphasises recent forecasts by top-rated analysts.
($1 = 60.4750 Indian Rupees)
(Reporting by Devidutta Tripathy; Additional reporting by
Tripti Kalro in Bangalore; Editing by Miral Fahmy)